Structural modifications involved in the fore- and hind limb grip of some flying foxes (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae)



A mechanism which enables flying foxes to lock their hind limb digits and thumbs in flexion is described. The deep digital tendons of the hind limbs have roughened fibrocartilage surfaces. The adjacent flexor tendon sheath supports ridges which interact with the rough tendon surface, temporarily ‘locking’ the two structures together. This tendon locking mechanism is of importance as it enables bats to reduce the energetic cost of hanging from branches. It does this by reducing, or eliminating, the need for digital flexor muscle activity.